The purpose of this essay is aquaint those with little or no knowledge on the matter of anti-semitism, more specifically, anti-semitism in the late Middle Ages1. This essay will examine the nature and origins of anti-semitism in a political, economic and social context, aswell as the rise and spread of Christianity and its ties to the coming of the Crusades. Before embarking on these issues, a question must first be asked.why study anti-semitism? and more specifically, why study medieval anti-semitism? It happened hundreds of years ago, why should it matter now?. The answer, while a rather complicated one in full, is that the anti-semitism exhibited today traces from it's beginnings in medieval times and even earlier. The Crusades were a blood bath of terror, a massacre of the Jews and non-Christians, to which history would repeat several centuries later, in an even more horrific consequence, known by virtually all as the Holocaust. It is a chilling word, even more so that it sums up an entire period of the Jewish people in one of the darkest chapters of history. Education of this issue is vitally important, so as to never allow for another tragedy, born out of ignorance and intellectual shortcomings of a misinformed society. The definition of "anti-semitism" is regarded as hostility toward or prejudice against the Jewish people or Judaism, as well as the characterized discrimination against the Jews2. This is the simplest form of the definition, which could been written as an essay on its own. The Jewish people originated from ancient semitic tribes that were formed well before the birth of Christ3. The nature or expression of medieval anti-semitism was very evident, as shall next be examined. .
There were many expressions of anti-semitism in the Middle Ages, from art to philosophy to politics to social interaction and so on. Because there are numerous examples that could be cited, an attempt will be made to illustrate some of the major anti-semitic expressions, ideas and thought towards the Jews of this era.